Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seattle of the Southern Hempishere

We left Australia and flew from Melbourne into Auckland, New Zealand. Based on first impressions only as we've been here less than 24 hours, Auckland is a great city. It reminds us of Seattle in many ways. We mentioned earlier in our travels that we thought Austin, Texas was the Seattle of the South, well, Auckland is like the Seattle of the Southern Hempishere. This time though, the comparison has more to do with the climate and geography.

We took the airport bus from the airport and arrived at our couchsurfing accomodations. Our hosts were two guys, one born in Chicago and the other born in England who had both lived here for about three years. They were pretty well traveled and we enjoyed talking with them about places they've been and places we've been. It was also fun to talk to them about our impressions of Australia and the differences between Australia and New Zealand.

We got up this morning and the sky was overcast, drizzling a little and about 55 or 60 degrees - which would be typical for a Seattle spring day. We're staying in the Eden Terrace neighborhood of Auckland which is very similar to Capitol Hill in Seattle. We walked into downtown and crossed an overpass that was surprisingly similar to Pine Street and Boren in Seattle:

The downtown is right on the water and is full of coffee shops, bookstores and other stores similar to Seattle. There's even an island close to Auckland (Waiheke Island) that by description sounds very much like Vashon Island. We even saw a coffee shop named Seattle Espresso:

Then, the cost of two bagels with cream cheese and two coffees was $15, just like we'd pay at Mr. Spot's Chai House in Ballard. To be fair, if we paid $15 in Seattle we'd get lattes, and with the favorable exchange rate, $15 NZ dollars is about $10 US. The exchange rate is actually helping us here. Australia was terribly expensive with the US dollar being worth less than $1.10 Australian. Here a US dollar is worth about $1.35 or so New Zealand dollars, and so far the prices seem pretty comprable to what we were paying in Australia. So, this is good news for our stay here.

We've also lined up a WWOOF host for next week. It's about an hour north of Auckland in a town called Warkworth. They grow olives, grapes and lavender. Not sure exactly what we'll be doing yet but their website is here. We'll be sure to post what that experience is like after we get there. We don't go there until Tuesday afternoon so tomorrow we will look around Auckland some more, maybe even take a ferry ride somewhere.

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